Please join us in welcoming the wonderful Jennifer Kincheloe, whose third book in the award-winning Anna Blanc mystery series, THE BODY IN GRIFFITH PARK, is out now!
Writing as a Team Sport
I recently had lunch Lee Child and a bunch of other extremely talented authors. I’m calling out Lee Child, not because he’s fabulously successful, but because he said this astounding thing. He said something like, “I don’t rewrite. I write one good sentence. Then I write another good sentence. When the book is done, it’s done.”
Lee Child is a genius, and that’s not how I work.
For me, writing is a team sport. I get feedback from my writer’s group and rewrite like crazy.
I found my first writers’ group through Meetup.com. No one in the group had ever finished a novel, though a few members had MFAs or English literature degrees. All of them were readers and they knew what they liked. The most amazing thing about them was that they were willing to read my first feeble attempts at writing fiction and tell me what worked and what didn’t work. (“Jennifer, that love scene is unintentionally hilarious.”) Over the course of a year, we met every other week and they critiqued my entire debut novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC. Without them, it would still have that love scene.
Sure, we’ve all heard horror stories about writers’ groups, and some caution is needed. Writers’ groups need ground rules to be successful. They need a strong moderator to keep that one loquacious person from dominating. Criticism must be constructive. Toxic types should be mercilessly dispatched (kicked out, not the other kind of dispatched).
Learning to handle criticism of my work prepared me for working with agents and editors who wanted me to change things. I got practice discerning good advice from bad. It thickened my skin.
How do you know good advice from bad? I’m going to quote Neil Gaiman on this because he said it so well.
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” ― Neil Gaiman
Writers’ groups may not be for everyone. Lee Child, for instance. But mine helped me grow into a published author.
The third book in the Anna Blanc Mystery series, THE BODY IN GRIFFITH PARK, released July 23rd, fully vetted by my writers’ group.
Dear readers, what kinds of experiences have you had with writer or reader groups? Or what advice would you add?
Jennifer Kincheloe is a research scientist and the acclaimed author of the Anna Blanc mystery series. Her novels take place in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD and combine, mystery, history, humor, and romance.
Her novels have been finalists for the Macavity Award, the Lefty Award, the Colorado Author’s League Award, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and have won the Mystery and Mayhem Award and the Colorado Gold.
She lives in Denver with her husband, two teenagers, cat, and three dogs, one of whom is a new Saint Bernard-mix puppy.
THE BODY IN GRIFFITH PARK, the third book in the Anna Blanc mystery series, is now available. For more information, please visit jenniferkincheloe.com.